A Blue Springs resident, who was a former church youth director in Independence, will spend 30 years in federal prison for child exploitation of seven minors and pornography.
U.S. Chief District Judge Greg Kays sentenced Dennis W. Myers, 53, to 30 years without parole, the maximum sentence possible for a serial abuser.
Myers pleaded guilty to transporting a minor across state lines for illegal sexual activity and receiving child pornography over the Internet.
The plea deal he struck with federal prosecutors compelled him to also plead guilty in Jackson County Circuit Court to state charges of first-degree statutory sodomy and attempted enticement of a child.
In the federal case, he admitted having sex with a 16-year-old girl.
Myers is a former youth director at Christ United Methodist Church in Independence, but the federal conviction stems from the mid-1990s, when he served in a similar job at First United Methodist Church in Springdale, Ark. Myers met the girl when she was 15 and he was at the church in Arkansas. He left that church, started a DJ business around 1993 or 1994 and was training the girl to help him in the business.
He admitted that he and the girl were at that time engaging in sexual activity. For about a year – from November 1994 to November 1995, when the girl was about 16 – he admitted transporting her from Arkansas to the Kansas City area and having sex.
He later moved to Blue Springs. Two adolescents complained of inappropriate sexual activity, and police investigated. They searched his home in September 2011 and seized his computer, on which forensic examiner’s found a video of child pornography downloaded from the Internet and viewed on the computer.
He admitted to exploiting a pair of 12-year-old girls in his home. He also admitted to fondling three other minor girls ranging in ages from 13 to 17 on an overnight church lock-in, a church camping trip and at his apartment and production in his Blue Springs home of a pornographic image of a prepubescent girl.
Federal prosecutors also offered evidence at the sentencing hearing of other inappropriate and suspicious interactions between Myers and girls who lived in his neighborhood, though they were not deemed criminal.
In 1994, a victim in Independence wrote to the church in Arkansas to disclose Myers’ activities while he served as the youth director at Christ United Methodist, but Myers intercepted the mail. Myers then wrote the victim, asking her not to disclose what he did, telling her, among other things, that it would bring scandal to the church.
The Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office will recommend sentences of 10 years each – served concurrently with each other and the federal sentence – on those two charges.
The case was brought under Project Safe Childhood, a federal effort to combat child sexual exploitation and abuse.